tv State of Literature and Diversity in Books CSPAN September 10, 2016 5:30pm-6:31pm EDT
he demanded that the group got off of the horses immediately. and so here was this group in the middle of egypt they have no idea where they were were in there is some friction sometimes with americans in egypt now but she felt like she was in a vulnerable state. after a couple of miles find their way to familiar ground. they were open to real problems. i guess that's it's a long answer to say you want to makes something can crash
actually in place and certainly not while you are abroad. you want to get it all taken care of before you go overseas. >> we want to thank everyone for coming. very thorough information. it's my pleasure to be able to do this. >> please grab a slice of pizza before you leap. thank you very much. [applause].
in your watching book tv on c-span two. here is a look at what is on our prime time schedule for tonight. it will kick off at about 6:45 6:45 eastern time for the lessons that they learned. and 9:00 p.m. nadia lopez discusses her work at a school in brooklyn. in 10:00 p.m. the former attorney general alberto gonzalez sits down for book tv afterwards program he discusses his new book true faith and allegiance it's about his time in the george w. bush administration. we wrap up book tv at 11:00 p.m. with political cartoonist. he discusses his use of donald trump as a character. that all happens tonight on c-span to book tv.
>> good morning everyone. how are you today? i just want to thank you for coming out the new york library caucus is here with you today and we have a very great here for you and our panel consists of stacy whiteman publisher of two books, we also had an author in the new book coming out. we will let you know all about it.
our discussion today in your presentation and handout today in 2013 i'm referencing i actually have another date that's even better every 200 chiller books published this is only according to the children's council and of those 3200 bucks 93 were about african-american children in addition to that there was an article written by walter dean myers that said we are the people of color in children's books. our panels panel's gonna discuss where are the people of color and in children's books and how far had we come and where are we going.
we will begin our panel. >> everyone is all set. i just introduced your names i want you all to go around and actually give a brief introduction of yourself and what you do and how we come together to be on this panel. i will start with stacy. i am the publisher of two books. you might know us for our picture books like black all around. we had been publishing diverse picture books for the last 25 years. i focus on middle grade for ages eight to 12 and 12 and up. middle grade for ages eight to 12 and 12 and up. hello.
i will hold it. i was actually brought here. it is interesting that first book that i illustrated it was a book called i am enthralled about the book of poetry about fathers also come from a legacy of artist and children book people my father wrote this book. and my mother who is also an artist met my father in art and design high school.
i wear many hats in the world of publishing i have a firm called the literary media consultants. we average the lot of major african-american culture -- authors. as well as i am the founder of the african-american children's book project. the largest and oldest single day event for african-american children in this country i'm also a contributor to the deb smith show. we provide african-american children as i host the segment on book travel and entertainment on the i heart radio station which is broadcast in philadelphia. we have a distinguished panel here today. i'm in a start was some questions.
my first question in their questions just for the panel. the first question is african-american children see themselves in books that promote self-esteem and develop their interest in reading what would you say about that. >> i think that being able to see your reflection there's a wonderful article from the 80s i want to say i highly recommend meeting if you have it gotten a chance to be able to see yourself in a book and the concept is really important when you're talking about the numbers of children's books out there that are beers versus window. there just aren't enough. we just need more.
i think that is important for being of the feel like you can be a hero in your own story. >> is important to be able to see themselves there. maybe have an inspiring author. of who is african-american. to let them know that this is a possibility it's about being inclusive and you want to try to include everybody and exploring the possibilities.
>> validation is really important. children are going through all different things in their lives. to be secure about who they are. validation is important. children have ulcers of experiences if they don't see their experience than they think their experience is not valid. there must be something wrong with them if everybody else's experience is written about but nobody is writing about their experience. i think it's important for the myriad of experiences of black people to be explored in books
and all types because our children need that validation. in their lives have been respected. i grew up in a generation were children's books it was probably dick and jane and that was the image that was presented to you and to see yourself in a book i remember the first time i ever saw myself it was an aha moment. i can still remember the first time i read a story about harriet tubman i read this book and the more i run the more it made me feel proud of my heritage. i think all of the panelists are saying the same thing.
they need to see images of themselves in these books because it enriches their lives empowers them and enlightens them not just african-american but all children if are going to be an inclusive society we need to see some diversity. >> speaking about diversity in addition to that the article that i'm referencing there's a quote that i found that i wanted to ask the panel about. there's for our common humanity. what message you think is being sent out when they are not represented in those books. we focus on what is and what should be and we don't focus in on what is. i'm trying to keep telling
people over and over again that the message that is out there is that books exist about our children their wonderful books. if you wanted to talk to your child about why it's important to read give them that book. it was against the law punishable by death if you could read he became creative by reading his poetry. and you teach a child that being able to read is something that is a gift that you need to utilize. you have to teach a child how to be resourceful. we need to focus and not just on why you need diversity but let's talk about more about what exist out there in the marketplace is the classic in daddy's arms i am strong. there are 70 books written about african-american men and what they weren't doing.
he wrote this wonderful book about how in the african-american a father's arms he is strong. resonated across the board about how you share a love of reading to a child but also empower them . would you like to comment about that statement. number one i want to say thank you i do think it's important to focus on the positive and met his neglect that is negative things out there what we do is focus on we are not
envisioning the future. what can we truly see. i watch a lot of netflix at a certain point i have to stop and the reason i have to stop is because i noticed a pattern number one i notice that there are a lot of really interesting movies with white characters that are very compelling and then when i have the titles black interest the quality really goes down. and the thing is i know 70 creative people have really interesting ideas that are doing things that are really astounding and all we can
really find is a television programs that don't really mean much. it makes me angry what else can i do for the world. and so when we put the focus on getting information out the focus on showing people books that are high-quality books that are really a visionary that it would be a brave new world for children.
>> tell me how to get the books out to children and what do you do when they come into your branch. as a librarian i don't be -- and i believe in sitting at the reference desk and wayne people come to me. i work with my department for example about that. and it's not something you see all the time. the focus of activism. in the african experience.
to let them know about these titles we care about what they read thank you for talking about that. in bookstores, libraries let us know. >> one of the first about what she was saying. we saw what we were doing. back in 2010. we started out just doing science fiction and fantasy. it's not very welcoming. i saw that i have a lot of friends of color who went into science fiction and fantasy.
we want to be able to give kids of color a sign that says you are welcome here. you're welcome in the future. i told him what i was doing he said yet yeah we need more indians in space. anywhere in the world is so important for all kids. and so what we do as we get the books to where the kids are we get them into libraries. were not as strong in bookstores because of the kinds of things that elizabeth was talking about earlier. sometimes they are not as strong. it has been happening the last few years.
it has really open some eyes and we are we're hoping to see some change soon. so you heard how to get books and in what type of marketing is done. and then had talk about a festival what would you look for to bring to the festival. i wanted to address her question. elizabeth statement i was there at the beginning of the african-american literary renaissance. one of the issues now is more independent even though there is less a lot of people are coming back into the business. consumers have to ask for these books. you have to demand it. give to go into your local
bookstore in your community and say i want to have these books. and i guarantee you that i will go and do this. the negativity on the shield on the publishers or the authors consumers have a responsibility. whenever i say this people get upset. if you buy it they will produce it. and until they begin to understand it it's neck want to change the whole issue of not having books in bookstores in your community. there is a distributor who was here earlier this morning his name was not see. most of the time publishers won't go to him and haven't done their research. we are out there and that's one of the reasons why he has been so successful.
we have more books than any other african-american retailer in the entire country into a half hours. stacy is a publisher and i have a question for her that well piggyback what i just said. what criteria do you have it when it comes to publishing books about children of color how do you find authors manuscripts in the selection of characters and storylines. >> our model is about everyone for everyone. what were talking about. they believe that everybody should read this awesome book. what i look for when i am reading manuscripts is i look for the stories but there's also can be a component because there are some things i don't know.
it has been a big learning curve over the past six years to know what i'm looking for. and we use cultural experts actually. so say i get a hawaiian manuscript bring in a run that by someone who is actually hawaiian to make sure that that person did the research and is not only telling a good story but doing it in a way that is culturally culturally i'm always just looking for a good a story and i'm also thinking about where our gaps are. we have literally -- literary experts. why don't you had books about this. the books on the subject.
will send the book too. in the editor that i'm sending this manuscript into is not a random person you have to do your research, you have to make sure whoever you're spending it to for the types of books that you are creating. the reason why you want to do that is because no one is gonna re- invent the real for you. they already have a line of distribution they already have a seal team that has been prepped in a certain way. you want to create something are you want to go with a publisher who fits right into what you're doing so that you can fit right into their industry. and have a great time.
for fighting and arguing with the book company because they are not getting what you are doing. with that said. if you just want to follow-up what you're saying. on the publisher side were actively looking for writers of color because of the margin that you are talking about. i thing think it's possible for people to write cross-cultural but i think it's really important the numbers you are sharing earlier of actual books by people of color about people of color are even lower than the numbers of books about people of color. it's really important to get people of color who are ready writing about their own experience in the world more and more. the writing contest every year looking for new writers of color. they also had to address how they market these books to the
african-american community. we buy books in a different way than the mainstream community. the church and social and civic organizations that are opportunities for people to buy books. as i would just describe -- discussing about 4500 people in the dead of winter when it could be the coldest day may be snow on the ground because people can't find books at any other time of the year so they wait all year long to buy books it's also a limited amount of marketing and promotion done to promote these authors. it's an important component. we have to know about them. they put their book in the front of it. the other thing that is really crucial we create major hype
at our event. people get excited. we also sell books so kids can see them. when a child walks up and says instead of putting them on the shelf they see the outline of the book they are more inclined to want to read that book. we have to begin to ask them what are the interest. i meant to give you a thriller and i will give you the romance. what are your interests. with that said. >> the public library we buy books but, we don't sell the books. so what would you recommend to parents that may come in and say i want to build a children's library for my children home. home.
>> yes. it was a wonderful organization in a sense that in terms of librarian, come out here to the city, you have a lot of librarians of color and those of out, other parts of the nation, it's not the same. this organization helps professionals come to development, connects us, we network and share sources and ideas and respond to programs that are designed for our communities, so it's a nonprofit organization and they do not have to be a librarian to join. we have a website and we have a president who is a wonderful president and others in the room who will take your membership if you would like to join us to
help educate others about black folks, literature, librarian leadership. now, the book sensor books and from what they received in the last three years, i talked that in 2013, 3200 books were received by only 6800 african-americans but they were about -- written about african americans. for 2014, we see a little increase. other than that number, 84 were by african americans but 180 were about african americans. now for 2015, there was a drop. only received 3400 books to review but it was an increase by 106 aftercane americans and also about 269 african americans. that was last updated april 5th,
2016, for the panel hearing the numbers, what do you think would be the best solution. he's been writing for many, many years and he knows what it takes for him to get his book published. stacy, you're a publisher and you're hearing in terms of what needs to be done. as a librarian you heard what they do to get them on the show. i want to direct the question to stacy as a publisher and then i will go around. with the numbers -- what about the numbers and you talked about what is being study and what's going on. >> well, actually we have been doing diversity gap studies for the last three or four years now
that -- the numbers, that we made it done and moved the needle. we are also looking at the greater culture. we are looking at publishing itself and we tried to extend the publisher's survey. we did our diversity gap survey where we had independent researchers looking at their whole company rather than whoever happens to subscribe weekly. similar results but we wanted to have some real baseline numbers so that we can look at how that changes over the course of the next two years. so we are looking at the greater culture because we want to recognize that it's not children's books only where this issue is happening. discoverability, though, is one of the biggest issues.
if you have people coming in to the library, where are the books of people of color, or people who don't know, you know, where the look for, social media is actually one of really great place to learn where the books are because there are librarians, there are writers, editors and all sorts of different people who are online and sharing their favorite books, reviewing, some are rich and color and are looking at not just in quantity but quality and recommending, hey, maybe you should read this book. that kind of thing but discoverability are our biggest hurdle. >> i want to address your statement about the study, this study is often quoted and
there's always the shock element, oh, my god, you have 3500 books and 60, 80 were only published by african americans. you don't need to define trend and there never will be enough to suit my case of african-american books. the study is based on if you sent the book -- >> that's what i said, in the beginning. >> they don't include self-published titles, which there are thousands of titles that are published, very good self-published titles, small independent presses. there are numerous -- i met a couple of people here today who have wonderful books. we need to look at that and not focus so much on these studies and focus in again and again, you mentioned those websites, the african-american project has been around for 25 years. we have been advocate banging the drum. we are in the industry. i'm working the media and i'm
constantly telling people you've got to cover. we have been around for 25 years and we've never an mpr interview. we have been on television and we had a number of interviews, but we have to begin to just push the envelope a little bit more to get the books and the information out there. i'm sure he can count how many times he's been interviewed about his body of work. our gregory christy wrote 50 books, 50 books and he's been living in decatur, georgia and he's never had interview about the wonderful literary center that he has there. we have to not just talk -- you mentioned publisher's weekly and those kinds of journals, i'm an advocate -- wrote an article about children's book and i made sure she was here. she was going to write something to push people into that end too. you know a wonderful author
mentioned that to the media. send their name in. i'm very passionate about this because the books are out there. the books are wonderful. >> one thing that i noticed with "the new york times" children's section is they reviewed a couple of the books recently in the last year or so and i've been seeing a grasp because of this greater -- i mean, people have been working on this forever but this greater push that we had recently, i think has been moving beyond just the circle of people who have known it for so long and -- there's some ah-ha moments in circles that might not have happened before. >> it's up to you people. push the envelope. >> i mean, i think a lot of when's going on in the news today is definitely pushing people to explore more and into
looking at things in alternatives ways. i also want to say, like, this is a systematic problem in america. it's not just the book companies. it's a lot of different of society. you have the schools. if the parents are not teaching the children to become readers at home, then you can't expect to have readers when they grow up, you know, it could happen, but it's just not going to happen in the same way with the same volume. so you have to, as parents, you have to purchase books for your children, your children have to see you reading. you have to check in at your schools, see what they're library looks like, you know, what's happening -- >> do they have a library?
>> right, do they have a library? what's happening in terms of their curriculum. they have common core books. there's books, you know, being suggested in a common core standards that have, you know, multicultural conversations through them. definitely the bookstores and then another thing that hasn't really been suggested is that we have, you know, like 80% white and i'm pretty sure that probably white women editors, your children are going to school, they're looking for what to do when they get out of school, they could be an editor, they could be a book designer, you know, like, we have to become a part of the industry so that our voices get heard.
and the companies are really good and supporters and like past personal experiences with my father's work, and he has books out there that have been out almost as long as i've been born, and when you ask the book companies, you know, an anniversary is coming up, would you like to support, they say no. so we have to be in the industry. we can't just take it and complain. we have to make the investment. >> thank you. >> very quickly. we need diverse books because as an organization now has been doing a lot of great things to try and get more people of color into the industry. they have an internship grant.
the last i know 2,000 or $2,500 which for a summer time internship can help the cost of living in new york city because it's really expensive here and that's a big barrier to a lot of people, so there are ways that if you think that there are barriers that financially that might be in the way of joining the industry that might be one way or someone to make it happen. >> so i'd like to thank our panel. we are now open up for question and answers. we have q&a. we are opening up to the audience. do you have questions, comments? [inaudible] >> they can't hear you.
>> it's on. okay. [inaudible] >> now, they can hear you. i'm saying that -- [inaudible] >> the question is i think sometimes -- [inaudible] >> so the fact that if you are a black writer writing the book, you need also in terms -- you also need that white side to buy your books. the publishers don't think that
a book by a black writer can be market today a white audience. [inaudible] >> she is correct when she says we have to look at the consumer, the consumer has become an activist. >> she has an answer to your statement. >> i was just thinking as you were speaking, when you think about pop culture -- [inaudible] >> he said it so eloquently. the way you dress, our hair styles all of the stuff is appropriated by the majority of white culture but yet when it comes to literature, it seems like -- the book of the month or whatever you want to call it, for some reason -- [inaudible] >> why do you think that is? >> to me it doesn't make sense. to me personally it could be
just -- again, it's like a systematic -- [inaudible] >> makes you look and see -- they're doing something. i feel that too. [inaudible] >> books are extremely powerful, so to me that is why. >> also the marketing too. like you said opening was in bookstore, you're putting african-american interests in different sections and not marketing to everyone. then you're from the starting, you're cutting off a large section of the audience which is why it all plays together. >> it's interesting that you say because there are two sides to
that story because in -- up until the harlem renaissance period in the 90's, african american authors were included in the broader picture of a bookstore. but then african americans authors started requesting separate section because they wanted their consumer to be able to walk in the store and find the landscape of what was available and there's still people on both sides of the fence. i say, play it all, give yourself an african-american section and include it in the broader part of the library -- of the bookstore because there's nothing wrong when i'm looking for an african-american children's book for my grandfather juliana isabella that i work over to the african-american section. i don't have time, i want to make it happen. we have to look at it on both sides of the fence. >> the rule of three. are you familiar with william
mcduffy, a comic book artist and writer -- >> writer too. >> and he sadly passed away too early but he basically said he could have one or two african-american characters but when you put three, it suddenly became a black book. i think that's a whitens problem. i think that white people need to look at it and say, what's holding me back from reading something that's different from me. i grew up in a small town, white people everywhere and i was basically told growing up that white is the bulk and we need to get past that. look at the kids, in our public schools we are majority minority in the nation. everybody in this nation is going to have a friend that's different in some way, whether we are talking about lgbt, cultural differences, race differences and that we all need to be looking beyond ourselves specially when you're the majority of the white person and
be reading and consuming media beyond yourself. do we have another question? comment? you can't hear? >> no. >> oh, no. wow. you didn't hear what stacy said. >> can you hear me? i'm so sorry. can you hear me now? her question was why don't -- what about white readers, why don't white readers read black votes versus black readers. >> economics play a part too. if oh you have a limited amount of funds you want to read -- usually people read what everybody else is reading, and that happened with african-american book buyers too. it's like a cycle. african-american readers started reading african-american fiction
and the more you read, the more you want to read. subsequently what everybody is else reading -- they started reading the thrillers, the this and the that just like the colleagues at work and sometimes it's a question of economics. what i'm saying to people today here and specially in the times that we are living, get a book, take a book home. a book preserves a legacy and you need to start putting books back into the home. i'm really grateful that all the librarians are here and the wonderful that they do. when i grew up, everybody had a home library. it's time to start buying books, we need diverse books and open up pocketbook instead of buying video games, start buying some books. and with all of the things that are happening in the world today, kids need to be sitting at home reading a book instead of watching all the things that are happening on tv.
you need to be explaining them to your children through the written word. >> do we have questions on that or comment? yes, there's one right here. >> i'm interested in how we get reading back -- >> the microphone is right here. [inaudible] >> hold the mic up to your mouth . put the mic to your mouth. [inaudible]
>> so the audience understands what it was. >> i heard part of the question about trying to get reading back to your homes. i would also suggest to the -- to our audience here also pay attention what's going on with your local government and state laws. the reason why i say this, and are not mandated for elementary-level students. when your children are learning how to read and you have a professor there to help them --
[inaudible] >> many school districts are -- they got rid of all of the librarians last year. that's a state mandate. there's a lot of books that make no sense to me. those are fundamental things. we are electing lawmakers, they're accountable to us and that to me -- besides when i was growing up, my parents, we were lower, middle-class people, my father was a disabled man. i didn't actually have -- we didn't have extra funds to bring books into the home. where i got my books from was from the school library. at one point the public library i owed them money and i stayed away for a while but those were the biggest influences. on the flip side for me growing up, the books that i remember
were little houston prairie, ramona, you see the -- ramona didn't have any black neighbors. there were no black people. so until i got older, that's when i realizeed. i was exposed to jubilee or even to kill a mocking bird, that was a first for me. to get kids reading again, we have to really start with the fundamentals and hold our school districts to task and my kids made up for what was lacking at home. >> just -- just to piggyback on that, there's organizations putting books in bash western --
barbershops. let's find alternative ways to bring books to the community and also it's not just about getting your child to read but getting the community to read. >> how many people belong to a church or social civic organization in this room? >> you have many opportunities within that network to create book opportunities the way to purchase books, have fundraisers to buy books, create an environment in your home. i know -- we had a book mobile. we didn't even have a school library, we didn't even have a building in the community. i grew up in a rural community and we did go out and get two books but my father who worked in a factory and i'm one of eight. my father managed to have two daily newspapers, national geographic, life, he made sure that we had as well every month he would allow us to buy one book.
it was a paper back but he put aside those kinds of funds and we need to begin to make sacrifices, because we do find ways to buy other things in our community. >> that is true. >> one thing -- can you hear me. one thing to add onto that is that you mentioned technology. technology can be used toward encouraging reading as well, there are some really great apps like the overdrive app that you can put your library card number into it and you can check out e books and audio books specially for kids who may not read as well but maybe they're good at listening. audio books are really great for that. i personally as an editor, just don't -- when i get home from school i don't feel like reading books that have been published and i have read more books via audio books this year than i have in so many years so those are tools that you can use. >> yes, do you have a question? >> can you hear me? >> hold up more closer.
>> i'm holding it. can you hear me? >> good afternoon. >> good afternoon. >> i'm a high school english teacher so i survey my students -- i survey my students at the beginning of the year and this is about reading because i'm an aindividual reader. i grew up in a home with reading and i realized that reading is a luxury. part of of the conundrum is that the majority of my students do not or did not have magazines, monthly magazines coming to their home. and when i would bring in magazines for the students to read, they were like fascinated and engrossed, therefore i had an opportunity to introduce them to a portable reading mechanism
then at the same time when it came to reading nols with students with stamina. they have to start early and continuously but at the same time -- i'm very familiar with the children's book fair. yes, there are 4,000 people standing in line in 20-degrees to get in to buy a couple of books for their children and that's awesome. but what we need to understand, audience, they need continuity and consistenty and need to be validated with african-american literature. i get -- but we also have a cannon. my friend here she and i argue. i get that.
we need to validate my girl, tony. [laughter] >> octavia butler. >> the audience can help. what can we do to make it better? the common core -- >> it's not common. >> the common core -- >> so before we -- before the panel answers this question. i want to say that we only have five minutes, so panel, take it to answer the question. >> the girl is one of my volunteers and has been one of the volunteers at the book fair for years and i am on a mission to get the state of sy